© 2024 254 North Front Street, Suite 300, Wilmington, NC 28401 | 910.343.1640
News Classical 91.3 Wilmington 92.7 Wilmington 96.7 Southport
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
CAPE FEAR MEMORIAL BRIDGE: Updates, resources, and context

NHCS staff, teachers, EDI committee members sign petition asking school board to keep Sophic Solutions contract

Ben Schachtman

Late last year, members of the New Hanover County Board of Education agreed to end the contract with education consultants Sophic Solutions; district staff later recommended a full board vote — but some community members want to see the contract continued.

The school board is scheduled to vote on whether to retain Sophic's contract at tonight's interim meeting — ahead of that meeting, several dozen people have signed a petition, asking the board to keep the contract.

Related: Here's why the New Hanover school board is voting on Sophic Solutions' contract, weeks after it was cancelled

The petition, sent to Board Chair Stephanie Kraybill and the board, addresses comments by board members that the recent creation of the Office of Equity and the Chief Officer of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity fill the need previously met by Sophic Solutions; the petition argues, "we believe it is imperative that not only the Office of Equity and the Chief Officer of Equity have the support and expertise of Sophic Solutions, but that their outside perspective is critical to the entire community’s efforts and directions on this journey that will continue well into the future."

The petition continues, in part:

It is the mission of the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion board committee to “ensure New Hanover County Schools celebrates our diverse community through growing a sustainable environment that embraces inclusion, provides equitable opportunities, and affirms our humanity.”

Toward this end, Sophic Solutions’ work in New Hanover County Schools has encompassed supporting the identification of diverse stakeholders in our schools’ communities with a priority for convening groups with multiple political, racial, gender, community, and background characteristics. Sophic Solutions’ work in supporting our school district’s audit for equitable access, inclusive practices and policies, and diverse perspectives has been critical to our understanding and direction. Their work has led to re-aligning the structure of the EDI board committee, the employee Equity workgroup, and the broader community’s commitment to schools and a school system that are affirming of our collective humanity. While some in our community have been committed to this work for some years now, in many ways, the work just beginning.

As of Tuesday morning, the petition had garnered 40 signatures, including several members of NHCS' EDI (equity, diversity, and inclusion) committee: Caress Clegg (also an NHCS staff member), Tyler Shumate (an NHCS teacher at Alderman Elementary), Karen Clay Beatty, Kayce Smith, Lina Espinosa, Gayle Tabor, Kirsten Kainz, Keyona Williams, Shawn Lamb, and former EDI committee members Jennifer Turner and Sena Preziosi.

Below: The petition and the list of signatures — some including notes — as of Tuesday morning.